FORMER MOUNTAIN LIONS HEADED TO HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL TOURNAMENT AS TIGERS, WILDCAT
ATHENS, W.Va. – Three former Concord University baseball players, who were teammates for the Mountain Lions, are in the thick of the action again – this time as coaches in West Virginia’s high school tournament.
Heading to the Class AAA semifinals at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston are Josh Wilburn, head coach for the Princeton Tigers; James Stehlin, assistant coach for Princeton; and Drew McClanahan, assistant coach for the Nitro Wildcats.
Princeton takes on Bridgeport at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 31. Nitro meets Fairmont Senior 30 minutes after the Tigers-Indians contest is decided. Pending results of the semifinals, the former Mountain Lions could be battling it out against each other as Tigers and a Wildcat. The championship game will be played on Saturday, June 2 at 10 a.m.
Both Nitro and Princeton are familiar contestants at the annual playoffs and have been rivals before at the tournament level.
“It’s definitely exciting, an accomplishment within itself to make it to the state final four,” Wilburn said. “We wish each other luck.”
“It’s a real point of pride for Concord alums to still be in competition with that level of success,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan, a pitcher for the Mountain Lions, played from 2004-2007. He was team captain in 2007 and a student assistant during the 2008 season.
Wilburn was a pitcher for the Mountain Lions for two years beginning in 2002. Following a shoulder injury, he took on the job of student assistant and worked with the team through 2007. “It gave me the resume booster to get into public school coaching,” he said.
Stehlin began his stint with the Mountain Lions in 2006. He played second base and went on to serve as a student assistant.
Wilburn graduated from Concord in December 2007 with a bachelor’s degree and later earned a master’s degree. McClanahan is a December 2008 Concord graduate and Stehlin earned degrees from CU in December 2010 and 2011.
Now, the trio is busy coaching and teaching in the public school system. All three agree the atmosphere and expectations that are trademarks of Mountain Lion baseball have carried from their student athlete days to their professional careers.
Stehlin says it’s qualities like “showing up every day…hard work…the discipline instilled in us from Coach Garrett” that make a difference.
Kevin Garrett, currently Concord’s athletic director, coached all three players when he served as the Mountain Lions head coach for baseball.
“I think it’s a great testament to their work ethic, character, the same qualities shown as collegiate athletes have been taken and applied to the high school level,” he said. “The hard work has paid off, competing at such a high level.”
“Playing for the baseball team prepared me to be a coach…being able to work under Coach Garrett,” Wilburn said. “Seeing his coaching style and how he handled the program filtered into my program along the way, the discipline Concord University instills in athletes and students and the discipline it takes to be a full-time teacher and coach.”
They also came away from Concord with a winning mindset.
“I played in two regional tournaments, played in four conference tournaments, and was part of the team that broke the school record,” Stehlin said. The record was for most wins in a season (35).
Stehlin was on board with CU baseball when Andrew Wright became head coach in May 2010. The Mountain Lions claimed the WVIAC Championship in 2011 and reached the third day of NCAA Atlantic Region tournament play.